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Kayaking on Lake Mead

Listed under Kayaking in Nevada, United States.

courtesy - Robert Finlay
Courtesy - Robert Finlay
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You can appreciate the American southwest desert for its natural imprint of soaring red rock, plains of cacti and coyote, peaks that reach to occasional snow cover, and at other times you can appreciate it for the more unusual imprint humans superimpose on it.  Landing by air in Las Vegas, you catch a glimpse of one such man-made phenomenon in the huge and sprawling shape of Lake Mead below you.  In fact, this “lake” is a reservoir fed by the Colorado River, and consists of several bodies of water – one being Boulder Basin, which is closest to the Hoover Dam, and which is an ideal arena for kayaking.

Geographically the most accessible to urban life, Boulder Basin can become complicated to get into at times.   An experienced group of paddlers might want to paddle across the most exposed portions of the lake and take a view of the dam from the lake side.  It is about a five mile paddle to Hoover Dam, and about a four mile paddle to some other areas with nice beaches and interesting shoreline -- at Castle Cove, for instance.  A more novice group might just paddle a mile out to Boulder Island, circumnavigate some of the islands and come ashore for a picnic.  Boulder Island and other “islands” within Lake Mead are of course originally just hilly high ground of the alluvial plain that was flooded to create the lake, and today you observe much the same flora and fauna as the rest of the Mohave desert, the creosote brush being the dominant shrub.  The waters are home to the box turtle, bass, trout and crayfish, while on land you may spot mountain sheep, rocky spine lizards and above you an eagle or heron. 

One way to avoid most of the crowds is to leave the organization to small local adventure outfitter Kayak Lake Mead.  Their meet-up begins in nearby Boulder City, and then depending on the weather conditions – meaning largely the wind factor – and the kayak experience of the group, their guide will select the best launch point onto Boulder Basin.  Kayak Lake Mead finds high performance kayaks rather than wider bodied kayaks work better in sometimes windier conditions out on the lake.  While the lake has no current – except when the wind has been blowing consistently for hours in one direction – it does pick up some wave action when stronger Pacific storms or just summer afternoon flash storms move in.

Hal went with Kayak Lake Mead.

Written by  Hal Peat.

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